Ever drive down the road in late winter/early spring and notice how one side of the road had a lot less snow or ice than the other? If you are an early season angler, this should be a big clue to where to begin the search for many of your favorite species shortly after ice-out. The road side with the less cold ground cover will invariable on the north side of the road; the side that is absorbing the warming rays of the spring sun for the longest periods of time during the day. This can often be a major clue to where to begin the search for species such as bass, pike, muskies and panfish (be aware some states have seasons for various species).
We know the north side of the lake will receive the most sunlight, but what are some other factors that will cause warmer water that will draw the baitfish, stimulate insect hatches, and draw the fish we seek? Areas that are partially sheltered from the colder water of the main lake also are favorite spots to check. Long extensive channel systems, shorter channels that are T or L-shaped and harbors, are my favorite places to check. And make sure you go as far back into them as possible, as long as a little depth holds up Enough depth can be as little as 2-3 feet. Another plus to these spots is that they will usually have a softer bottom. Soft bottoms are dark, and dark absorbs heat. It also stimulates early season bug hatches, which attracts fish.
While the logic through the years has been don’t waste your time fishing mornings in early spring, there are exceptions. My basic rule of thumb to go out early or not, is the night temperatures prior to the morning. If the night lows don’t get below the water temperatures where I plan to fish, a good morning bite is possible. If the night gets too cold, then a little time is needed for the shallows to warm up. The colder it gets at night the latter the bite will be. Sometimes the best action won’t be until 1-2 pm after a cold night. The fish should be packed in these areas. All you’ve got to do is catch them.